×

Warning

JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 903


The Burning Girl by Claire Messud

The Burning Girl, by Claire Messud

Described by Publishers’ Weekly magazine as “haunting and emotionally gripping,” this short book follows the author’s highly regarded 2006 novel Emperor’s Children, short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, as well as her other dazzling novels.

The Burning Girl, narrated in the teenage voice of Julia, is at heart a coming of age novel set in a small town in Massachusetts. Julia and Cassie have been best friends since nursery school, but their friendship flounders in seventh grade.

Julia, who comes from a successful, traditional family, does well in school and surely is college bound. Cassie is raised by a single mother, Bev, a hospice nurse, who invites into her life and their home Dr. Anders Shute. Together, Anders and Bev are overly strict, laying on punishments for the smallest of Cassie’s infractions. Cassie, who has never known her father, feels like she has now lost her mother and gained an imposter father figure.

Cassie becomes interested in boys, and she dabbles in drugs and alcohol, while the more conservative Julia gets good grades and is honored with an invitation to join the high school speech team where she makes more “suitable” friends.

Cassie begins dating Peter, whom Julia has always admired. Cassie also gets increasingly self-involved and engages in more destructive behaviors that she sees as the solution to unhappiness caused by never knowing her father. Cassie then simply disappears, runs away, and it seems no one knows where she has gone. Except Peter, in whom she had confided her dreams. And Julia, who has known her since nursery school.

The Burning Girl is well paced and suspenseful. Different from her previous novels, Publishers Weekly states that “in some ways this simple tale is less ambitious but more heartfelt than Messud’s previous work.”

The author has done a good job telling this emotionally intense story through a teenager’s eyes. I recommend this book for its deep look at female friendship and the complexity of adolescence.

Nancy’s Picks, New Fiction

 
Comments List

Archive posts

Collapse all

Excerpts is the library newsletter and comes out every three months. It is mailed to every Glencoe resident. Copies of the newsletter are available online (below) and at the library. Please be sure to check the library calendar for program updates.

2019 Issues

March 2019

2018 Issues

December 2018

September 2018

March 2018

June 2018

2017 Issues

December 2017

March 2017

June 2017

September 2017

2016 Issues

December 2016

September 2016

March 2016

June 2016

2015 Issues

December 2015
September 2015
June 2015

March 2015

2014 Issues
December 2014
September 2014
June 2014
March 2014

2013 Issues
December 2013
September 2013
June 2013
March 2013

2012 Issues
December 2012
September 2012
June 2012
March 2012

2011 Issues
December 2011
September 2011
June 2011
March 2011

2010 Issues
December 2010
September 2010
June 2010
March 2010

2009 Issues
December 2009
September 2009
June 2009
March 2009

2008 Issues
December 2008